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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Literary Blog Hop: Who's got time to read? And why's reading important anyway?


Literary Blog Hop

It's Literary Blog Hop time again, hosted by The Blue Bookcase. This month's question:
How do you find time to read, what's your reading style and where do you think reading literature should rank in society's priorities? 
Finding time to read: It's not so much about finding time but making time. Last year I managed to plan a wedding and to read more books than I had in years, and twice as much as I'd read the year before. I usually have a book with me, so I not only read at home before sleeping and on weekends, but whenever I have downtime or free time. Long line at the supermarket? Pull out the book. Computer crashing and rebooting? Let's read a couple pages. I have to admit, this method doesn't work so well with short stories, so I tend to stick to novels and full length books. I also listen to audiobooks occasionally, though I haven't been able to utilize that method as well as others. Oh, how I miss passive commuting.

Ebooks make it very easy - especially when you can sync across devices. (I'm totally with C-C here.) Then I can just look like I'm casually checking something on my phone instead of blatantly reading a book because I'm that bored with everything going on around me. Still rude, sure, but for some ridiculous reason it's somewhat socially tolerable (I can't go so far as to say acceptable) to pay attention to your phone but not so much a book. I figure if people I'm with have no problem constantly texting or checking their email or blogging or whatever, then I can certainly read. I am by no means a fast reader, so making time to read is important.

Reading style: I'm not a terribly big annotator - but I highlight/underline a lot. With library books, I use those little post-it flags for marking passages and actual post-its for writing comments. Blogging has changed how I read, making me pay more attention like I might have back at college, but hopefully I'm just so engaged in the text that I'm not constantly stopping to mark things. It really depends on the book.

Literature's priority in society: Reading actual literature should rank pretty highly in society's priorities, though it certainly doesn't. I find reading incredibly important and enjoyable, on a level that television just can't quite reach. Sure you can be engaged in a show or a film, but you're usually not required to do much of the work. Reading is more active than watching - you have to use your imagination to fill in the visuals. In the case of non-fiction, you are hopefully learning something new or coming to understand a new perspective, or adding to your knowledge base.

With all the new technology bombarding us, we have to learn to prioritize, to use the new mediums at our disposal effectively and efficiently (but let's not dismiss them entirely). Prioritizing reading, getting people to engage with the written word in this age of 24 hour news, dozens of social media options, the drive to disconnectedly stay connected - it's a major challenge. It's part of the reason I signed up for World Book Night (though, really, how I'm going to approach random strangers and try to convince them to take a book from me is still a mystery - we shall see!) - reading can be such an enriching experience that it's almost sinful that so many are missing out.

I could go on and on, but that would be silly. I'm most likely preaching to a bored choir. But what do you think? Any tricks for making time to read? How do you rate reading in your own priorities? Where should it fall, generally?
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